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Now picture this: me screaming the above. Angry. VERY ANGRY as a matter of fact. Screaming this at my computer screen. Screaming it at nobody and everybody. At you. You, person I might have never heard from who might have not even commented on this blog or any of the other publications where I can be regularly found scribbling my discombobulated ideas. Even though we never met before, I AM ACTUALLY, SCREAMING AT YOU RIGHT NOW. MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!. And I am screaming this because I want to convince you, I want to get it through you that this is not a choice or an abstract concept or an intellectual exercise. I am not screaming because well, you know, I just discovered intersectionality and OMG SO COOL GUYS. YOU NEED TO READ THIS. No. My feminism NEEDS to be intersectional because as a South American, as a Latina, as someone who knows certain parts of the Global South intimately by virtue of being a Southerner, as an immigrant living in Europe, as a woman, I am in the middle of what I like to call the “shit puff pastry”. The shit puff pastry is every layer of fuck that goes on above me, below me, by my sides, all around me. And in this metaphorical puff pastry with multiple layers of excrement, I am the dulce de leche that is supposed to make it palatable so that someone else, more specifically the kyriarchy, can eat me.

And here’s the thing: while I am screaming at you, I am also asking, nay, DEMANDING that you scream with me. And I am asking that you become as angry as I have been this past week. Because without anger and without righteous indignation and without the deep, relentless demand for change, my feminism, YOUR feminism, everyone’s feminism will fail. It will be bullshit.

This past week I’ve been screaming this a lot. Because I like to play “connecting the dots” (s.e. smith ipse dixit) as a matter of political practice. I play “connecting the dots” even though sometimes I might not get a properly outlined landscape but the equivalent of what my 1 year old niece playing with a bunch of sharpies on the coffee table would produce. Which is to say, sometimes, the pictures I draw when I connect dots might not make sense or might be inaccurate or might have missed a few dots to be totally accurate. But I am willing to pay the price of not making sense sometimes if I do eventually get it right. I would rather sometimes come across as far fetched than miss the landscape that the shit puff pastry provides. And these past few days I’ve been playing connect the dots more often than usual. Hence my anger. Hence my disappointment with feminism. FEMINISM! I AM DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU. To the point that I even considered ditching the label altogether. And if that happened, I would use a new label that pretty much sums up my politics: Flame-throwerism. Wherein I set feminism on fire and with its ashes I fill my cats’ kitty litter box and let them pee on it. That’s how angry I’ve been at feminism this week. Kitty litter levels of outrage.

Layer one of this week’s shit puff pastry

My anger was inaugurated with a simple photograph. Just a yellow sign, written with what pretty much looks like a sharpie. And this sign states that “woman is the N* of the world”. Held by a White Slut Walk participant in New York. I am sure by now you know the story. And I became a bit angry. Angry that someone would not realize what a hurtful, shitty thing that was. Angry that someone would not even know the history behind that word. That a woman, a fellow self identified young feminist would not have done some pretty basic homework. I was sad and angry. And then sad again and angry. Basic homework does not entail having read academic works dissecting the history of slavery, it’s legacy, colonialism and the idea that for centuries (and pretty much to this day) Black women have been considered unrapeable, that those N* bodies were (and sometimes, painfully very often still are) considered non-human. No, I did not expect a nuanced knowledge of all this. Just basic human compassion skills. A minimum understanding of the meaning behind a word. Wikipedia levels of knowledge, which is, like the ABC of feminist activism. And when I saw that sign, I screamed “MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT” for the first time this week. I screamed at all of you, at everybody and nobody. (Incidentally, at this point, my youngest cat got a little bit scared with my screams but let out a meow of pleasure at the prospect of feminism making its way to her kitty litter box). And I can hear you now say “But Flavia! Why do you care?! This one sign was in Slut Walk New York! In another continent altogether! What is that to you?!”. It is that my politics are all about anti racism. Moreover, racism is probably the one thing I struggle with the most. In my feminism, in my political activism, in my writing, IN MY FUCKING DAILY LIFE. When I am met with snide remarks because of my accent, when people openly dismiss my political ideas in a debate because I mispronounced a Dutch word, when I am told about “those people” (my fellow Non Western immigrants), WHEN I AM PUNCHED IN THE FACE as I was once, while the drunk asshole throwing the punch called me “cunt alien”. My feminism HAS to be about racism by virtue of being a significant layer in my very own shit puff pastry.

Layer two of this week’s shit puff pastry

After this photo made the rounds in some online blogs and magazines, it ended up posted in Slut Walk New York’s very own Facebook page. And commentary ensued. And oh yes WHAT A COMMENTARY THAT WAS! WHAT A SIGHT TO BEHOLD! This commentary, which Latoya Peterson has documented extensively (bless her, the degree of patience and nuance she attempted to provide, along with several other WoC who tried to have their voices heard in that discussion made my heart sink). This commentary ranged from the usual “But it’s just a word!” to “We live in different times now!” and then the EPIC FAIL, the shameful, disgraceful remark: “you are all jumping to side and rally against the black version of “n*”; we are simply rallying against the human version of “n*””, which, as Eli_Betta pointed out, bears the painful question: “Is the black “version” separate from the human “version”?”. And I sat there reading this discussion. I refreshed it for hours. These people were supposed to be my fellow feminists. This, I’ve often been told, IS MY SISTERHOOD! These are my people! BECAUSE I AM A FEMINIST! And of course, I screamed again, so many times that, at this point, my throat started to hurt. I was unsure if it was hurting because of my screaming or because of the tears I was holding up. MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT! I screamed it every time I hit refresh and a new, unknown up to that point level of fail showed up on my screen. I was not just disappointed that my supposedly fellow feminists were capable of such vile. I was disappointed that the very same organizers would allow this commentary to go unchecked. That, in the name of some misguided version of the old “freedom of speech” trope, they would not intervene and end the carnage. That the people behind Slut Walk New York’s Facebook page would not jump in and delete those comments. BECAUSE YOU CANNOT CLAIM TO WANT TO PROVIDE SAFETY FOR WOMEN WHILE YOU ARE LETTING *SOME* WOMEN BE RACIALLY ATTACKED. BECAUSE IF YOU DO THAT, YOU ARE A FUCKING HYPOCRITE AND YOU SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND SAY IT “WE WANT TO PROVIDE SAFETY JUST FOR *SOME OF US* WHILE THE REST, THE BROWN, BATTERED BODIES OF BLACK WOMEN ARE CALLED NAMES”. Because that’s a more accurate description of what transpired. Can you tell that I am still screaming as I type this? Can you tell I am angry? And if you are not angry with me right now, then I do not want to be part of your feminism. Then I do not want any fucking sisterhood with you or whatever nonsense we can come up to excuse our movement’s failures. If you are not angry at this, like I am, then I know we are not part of the same team.

And then something else happened: the whole thread was deleted. Just like that. Because, well, PEOPLE WERE SAYING RACIST THINGS. What.The.Fuck. People had been saying racist things for hours, without one single page moderator intervening by curating the ensuing discussion. Without a single deletion and a warning for those commenters who had suggested that Black women were “non human”. Instead, they deleted the whole thing (at Racialicious there is a good summary of significant portions of what is now gone, plus, for those who are on Tumblr, many people have made screen captures of some salient commentary). However, that deletion is unforgivable. Because the mere action also erased the commentary from Black (and non Black, in fairness) people who vehemently opposed the apologists. The act of erasure also did away with the opposition. Now we are left with third party accounts and commentary but we can no longer gauge the full extent of the offense. And I am sorry, but that is fucking lazy and irresponsible. If you cannot keep a thread in check, if you cannot provide a safe space, then perhaps you have no right organizing supposedly safe spaces for others; spaces like, oh, I don’t know, a massive march over New York City. If, instead of owning up for what happened under your watch, you delete the whole thing, I want no part in your feminism. I am going to say this now, loud: I AM NOT PART OF YOUR FEMINISM. I hope I am clear on that.

Layer three of this week’s shit puff pastry

I am not supposed to be angry at any of the above. Or better said: if I am angry at any of the above, I should weep in silence and not tell anyone. Because if I say as much as one word, I am ruining Slut Walk for everybody. Or at least, that’s what Shira Tenant told me in her piece at The Huffington Post a couple of days ago:

The point is there is strength in numbers. We need as many as possible involved in preventing rape and sexual assault. Critical self-reflection is important to any political movement. But, at some point that self-critique becomes unproductive — or worse, it divides a movement from within.

In the spirit of loving critique, instead of writing about the shortcomings of SlutWalk, what if Keli Goff wrote an entire piece about the problem of rape? What if Wendy J. Murphy used her media reach to attack rape, not other feminists? Rather than reducing SlutWalk to an event that involves “stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts” — then quickly dismissing this as “passing for keen retort” — I’d like Rebecca Traister to consider the far deeper concerns about sexual assault that underscore these events. I’d like to request that Gail Dines stop perpetuating divisive misinformation about race and anti-rape protest.[…]

Today, we don’t need COINTELPRO to divide feminist groups. We’re doing it to ourselves.

MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT! Do you see where I am coming from with this? Am I not supposed to apply that lens to Slut Walk? Am I supposed to ignore the violence that ensued in the N* word discussion? Am I supposed to overlook its blatant violence in the name of sisterhood?! IS THAT WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?! Then again, I want no part in such movement. The rotten, reactionary mandate that claims criticism as divisive and undesirable has no place in my politics. Whether they are called Feminism or Flame-Throwerism.

See? I never said anything about Slut Walk because it is a movement I do not necessarily feel as mine. And that is OK. Not every initiative has to include me to be valid and valuable. It is valuable to some people and that is fine for me. That was always my stance towards the movement. I have little interest in publicly reclaiming the word “Slut” because it is a word towards which I do not have an emotional connection. Puta, on the other hand, the Spanish language equivalent, is another story altogether. Because that’s the language of the man who beat me up while calling me “puta”. Because that’s the language of the world I grew up in and where women labeled as “putas” were also unrapeable and pretty much unworthy of being considered human. Because “puta”, is also the derogatory word used to refer to sex workers. Putas, a whole lot of women who deserved violence. But “slut” does not mean much to me, personally, so I always looked at Slut Walk from afar. When it happened in Amsterdam, I did not go. But I did believe it was OK for other women, for those who did feel like reclaiming the word to do so. My politics do not need to be identical to everyone else’s. We can differ in strategies or modes of action without those differences becoming gaps that cannot be filled. After all, the strategies might differ but our end goals are the same.

But after the debacle with the racial discussions, I no longer feel the same way. Now I need to publicly stand against Slut Walk. However, I am told, I am a bad, bad feminist for doing so. I am divisive. I am now part of the problem. However, any movement, be it feminism or something else that demands that I ditch my overall intersectional lens is not a movement I consider worthy of my allegiance. It is a movement that is actively against me. It is a movement that tells the xenophobic man who punched me in the face that well, that is somewhat acceptable because we do not actively stand against racism. Moreover, in our supposedly safe spaces, racism is openly allowed. And if people complain about it, we will delete the proof of our wrong doing.

I am not supposed to say any of this because now I am part of the Slut Wars. Why yes, I will now reclaim the word Puta and this angry puta Latina now tells you this: I am not part of your feminism. In fact, I have never been. Because if I am supposed to ignore racism in the name of your initiative, it means we are pretty much against each other. Even though racism has been historically used as an excuse to rape certain women. The very same action you are supposedly against. Free of charge, I have a new slogan for you then: Racist rape for some, miniature slut walks for others!

Layer four of this week’s shit puff pastry

OMG GUYS OMG THREE AFRICAN WOMEN WON THE NOBEL PRIZE! OMG A VICTORY FOR FEMINISM! Pretty much my Twitter stream was inundated with similarly celebratory expressions. RAH RAH CHEERS! Picture me, at this point, giving intense side eye to my computer screen. A victory for feminism, you say? How is that? Which feminism? The feminism of the three previous layers of the shit puff pastry I just described? You are now celebrating the Nobel Prize of three African women as yours when, a significant and visible portion of your movement did not stand for the countless other African American women who are being called names RIGHT NOW, ONE CLICK AWAY ALSO IN THE NAME OF YOUR MOVEMENT? But suddenly THESE three African women are a victory for feminism?! Sorry, but what?! I am missing something here. Oh right. Yes. I am missing my “connect the dots” game, which cannot separate all of these events from one another.

Moreover, and again, free of charge, I am going to provide further intersectional analysis for YOUR FEMINISM! These three African women won the Nobel Prize IN SPITE OF YOU. In spite of your actively working to oppress them and fuck up their lives. Because if you live in a Western Nation, in your name, your State has been making these women’s lives miserable. These women have achieved something enormous, of epic proportions, in spite of the fact that the State you are part of, the State that acts on your behalf and in your name, has been crushing them for decades, perhaps even centuries. But in celebrating their achievements as a victory for feminism, all of this is erased. We demand their inclusion in our movement! SISTERHOOD! A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR OUR SISTERS THAT WON THE NOBEL PRIZE!

Except that no. Because your other sisters, the ones who make the more visible face of mainstream Western feminism today are allowing unspeakable acts of racism to happen under their watch. And you cannot celebrate these three specific African women without situating yourself in their realities and the realities of all WoC around you. Without asking yourself why your movement has been so often accused of alienating WoC, of not acknowledging the legacy of slavery and colonialism in rape culture, of not actively opposing violence against WoC and without examining the role that your State has had in the on going, persistent violence perpetrated on people from the Global South even today, as I type this. Unless your feminism is actively engaged in all of this multi dimensional analysis, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT CLAIMING THESE WOMEN AS YOUR OWN. Because in the Western city where you are reading this now, WoC, women who look very much like these Nobel Prize winners are subjected to racial violence on a daily basis. And if these three Nobel Prize winners are your sisters in feminism, I must ask you the obvious and difficult question: why are you not standing with your other, local WoC sisters while their bodies are violated; while their sons are sent to prison in the name of your safety; when they cannot find jobs because of institutionalized racism; when they are being deported; when their children are called “anchor babies”; when the State acting in your name sterilized them; when these women are being called N****rs?! How can you morally justify selective solidarity with *some* WoC whose achievements are not unlike a Sisyphus burden while you are not actively working in the causes of the WoC who live around your corner? How can you not see that the two are tragically interconnected?

Layer five of this week’s shit puff pastry

I am hurting. Like real, physical pain on the right side of my torso. It’s been going on for a few days and I have no idea what’s causing it. I do know it’s gotten worse since I have been letting out all of this anger. I hurt even more so while I was researching my last post about the corporate profits behind the business of undocumented immigrants. Obviously this is not evident in the post itself but I spent days reading accounts of abuses perpetrated on immigrant bodies. I also saw the trailer to this film which Eli recommended in one of the comments. And I cried, when one of the Ethiopian women spoke of her abuse in the hands of smugglers and how she connected it with the European Union’s complicity. She had been raped in the name of my safety. Because I am a legal resident in a European country, I have to acknowledge that the State, on my behalf, deemed it acceptable that this body was abused. And I am also hurting because even though I put a lot of effort into that piece, nobody seemed to care much about it. AND YOU FUCKING SHOULD. Not because I wrote it, fuck that, no. But because all of that is done IN YOUR NAME. Because if you are a legal resident in a Western country, the State is actively abusing these people on your behalf. These immigrant, non White bodies are treated as worthless because YOU HAVE ALLOWED YOUR STATE TO DO THIS. And yet, few people seemed to connect to the piece or even find it worthy.

I do not give a damn that I wrote it. Moreover, I hereby give you permission to use my words as yours. Do not credit me if you do not feel like it. Use the words in that piece to discuss the subject. Tell people you wrote it if you need to. BUT IF YOU CALL YOURSELF A FEMINIST AND YOU DO NOT CARE THAT SOME WOMEN ARE GIVING BIRTH IN INHUMAN CONDITIONS AND THEIR CHILDREN ARE UNDER SUCH GRIEF THAT THEY HAVE SEWN THEIR LIPS TOGETHER THEN I AM NOT PART OF YOUR MOVEMENT. And if you cannot actively unpack your share of responsibility in these actions, which are happening right in your backyard, then one of us cannot call herself a feminist.

And if you cannot see how this issue is so deeply interconnected with all of the above, with racism, with violence on WoC, with rape culture, with colonialism, with our disdain for people from the Global South, with whose bodies are deemed human and whose are not (and as such, unrapeable), with institutionalized violence, with wars waged by our Nations on the countries where these people come from… if you cannot see all of this as part of the same landscape, as part of the same gigantic, oppressive shit puff pastry, then maybe I should not call myself a feminist. Maybe, indeed, throwing flames in the direction of feminism is all I have left.

I am not going to do that just yet. But FEMINISM, I MUST WARN YOU: MY FLAME THROWER IS LOADED AND YOU HAVE DISAPPOINTED ME. My cats would be delighted to pee on you.


  1. Romie wrote:

    Also, I second the desire to buy “MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT” merchandise. In almost any form. Because sometimes my throat needs a rest and I like my clothing/coffee mug/flag/babyjumper/button to shout for me.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink
  2. whimseywisp wrote:

    YES THIS OMG YES. I WILL THROW FLAMES WITH YOU. Because as a cis-gendered white lady I am ashamed that there are women that look like me that are acting like THAT. IT PISSES ME OFF. FUCK YEAH INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
  3. Angela wrote:

    Thank you for this Flavia.

    Vivian, sometimes anger is the only response left. When you’ve tried packaging these ideas up into a palatable non-offensive argument you get the shit that was written on the Slutwalk wall (and thankfully reproduced on Racialicious). I find this post by Flavia moving precisely because it is angry and because there is no other response at this point.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Scarlet wrote:

    Hi! This is Hektor, the dog, again. I had a pretty nice day. I napped a lot. Then I moderated your comments. Then I napped. I also attended to my business interests in the local community, such as peeing on trees in it, and on one part of the sidewalk there were a lot of chicken bones. I tried to eat the chicken bones. I also licked the side of a bus stop. I think there was pee on it, I don’t know. Possibly it was chicken. Either one is good.

    As I’ve established in prior comments, I’m a dog. Also, I’m extremely stupid. And if your comment is so stupid that I can identify it as such, I get to delete it and tell you why.

    This comment said that “racebloggers” talking about SlutWalk were “derailing.” I am but a dog, but I know what “derailing” means. It is when you try to stop walking so you can eat the chicken bones on the sidewalk. It means you start doing something that is not the thing you are supposed to be doing. Like when you stop talking about women to talk about something else.

    So, if “SlutWalk” is for feminism, and feminism is for women, then why would “racebloggers” be “derailing” when they talk about women of color and feminism? Is the thing they are doing not relevant? Is there a difference between “racebloggers” and “womenbloggers?” But Flavia is talking about feminism AND race! “Feminism” is in the title of the post! It starts with “MY FEMINISM!” So confusing!

    That’s when I figured out what this comment was saying. This comment was saying that people who talk about “race” can’t technically be women or feminists, and feminists and women can’t technically talk about race! The only way you can talk about women is if you talk about the kinds of women that don’t experience racism, the white ones. So what this comment is saying is that women of color are not women. And that is why it is “derailing” for them to talk about what they think and feel. Because we are supposed to be talking about what women think and feel, and women can’t be women unless they are white.

    Ha ha, stupid commenter! I am but a simple dog who licks bus stops, and I still know what women are! They are not just the white women, those are just one kind! White women are not the only women, stupid commenter! One time a blanket fell on my head and I could not get out from under it because it was advanced blanket technology so I walked around with it on my head and everybody laughed at me. Is that what it is like for you when you meet a woman who is not a white woman, Stupid Commenter? Are you very confused? I bet you are! Ha ha, now it is my turn to laugh at YOU. Because everyone is laughing at you. Because it is very funny, how stupid you are.

    Commenter, because you are stupider than I am — and I remind you that I am but a simple dog — I get to delete and edit your comment. No commenter! Bad commenter! Bad! Sit! Stay! Lick bus stop! That is much simpler than blog commenting, I think it is the career for you.


    Comment Moderator / Dog

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink
  5. Helen wrote:

    Thank you, Flavia. I’ve been following the slut walk sign controversy. I’m tired of the reminders that my brown skin isn’t welcome, even as people use it to sell their brand of feminism. It is hurtful and exhausting and how the hell do you not renounce feminism on a daily basis?

    I did read your post on the treatment of undocumented immigrants. I was one of the people too upset to comment, but I definitely read it and it has stayed with me. I wanted to let you know that that post wasn’t ignored at all. It’s just that there’s so much to fight and sometimes I don’t have the words. I am listening though. And I’m angry right along with you.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Kat wrote:

    Although I read every post, I rarely comment. I was so angry about your last post discussing immigration that I didn’t know what to do. Thank you for writing about these issues and for screaming so loudly about them. My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  7. Other Becky wrote:

    I’m not sure where to start. There are so many things I want to say and I’m not sure how to say them, or whether I should say them. I guess I’ll begin with this: Your piece on corporate profits and undocumented immigrants was really powerful. It made me think and rage and feel ill, but I didn’t feel like I had anything meaningful to say, and I’ve been trying to suppress the assumption that every passing thought and opinion of mine needs to be shared with the world, especially when it’s on a subject that disproportionately affects people who are oppressed in ways that I am not. Extra-especially when it disproportionately affects POC; I’m still unlearning a lot of racism and I’d prefer to do my processing in private rather than wound people with my ignorance.

    Second, speaking as a middle-class white cis straight woman, I agree with virtually everything you’ve written here. Racist feminism is not my feminism. Classist feminism is not my feminism. Any feminism that asks less-privileged women to set aside parts of their identities is NOT MY FEMINISM.

    Third, I stand in awe of your ability to articulate your rage. That’s something that’s way, way beyond me.

    Fourth, many thanks to Sady and Hektor for their excellent modding of the thread.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink
  8. Hayley B wrote:

    so many comments here, getting a little out-of-hand/difficult to read completely…

    i just want to say i empathize with your feelings and respect you so much. when i attended slutwalk seattle, i was incredibly ashamed by the blatent trans-ignorance by the speakers. several of us did some yelling about it but no one seemed to get it. it was all about “women” versus “men” and the “two genders” and all this nonsense that completely marginalized an absolutely integral group of people. really disappointing.


    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink
  9. oatsofwrath wrote:

    I just wanted to say that I found this post completely awesome. I am filled with awe.

    “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit” – now THAT’S what should be on signs at rallies and marches.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  10. Laura wrote:

    I hope you *will* continue calling yourself a feminist, Flavia – lor’ knows feminists need more people around reminding them that there is kyriarchy as well as patriarchy.

    Also, Hektor, I hope you don’t eat chicken that still has the bones in it. That stuff is dangerous, even for superior dogs such as yourself.

    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  11. SaraDee wrote:

    Thanks Flavia. I’m angry with you. I shared the immigration post on my Facebook, and now there are more people who didn’t know what was going on who are angry, and ready to do something about it. Your anger is productive, don’t let people Tone Argument you out of it. (But please don’t have a heart attack – then the assholes win).

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink
  12. Megpie71 wrote:

    I got furious about That Sign when I heard about it at Hoyden About Town. At least part of what I got furious about was the sheer level of historical and cultural ignorance the sign implied – the whole horrible sinking feeling of “didn’t we already have this conversation repeatedly”? SlutWalk as a movement annoys the heck out of me because it picks up territory (and chants, and arguments) which were covered by the Reclaim the Night movement back in the 1970s and the 1980s, and the 1990s. The stuff SlutWalk was supposed to be covering wasn’t new or original territory – but it was treated as such, not only by the mainstream media (who are always willing to reset the clock of radical progress) but by the organisers of the various SlutWalks.

    Those who fail to recall history will be forced to repeat it. And we’re repeating the same damn sets of arguments that were raised back in the 1970s when the original Reclaim the Night marches raised the point that nobody asks to be raped; that were raised in the 1980s, when women of colour pointed out that actually, yes, they’d been there in the movement all along, but nobody was fucking well listening; that were raised in the 1990s, when it was pointed out by people at multiple points of intersection that most of the “triumphs” of feminism were largely achieved at the expense of persons who weren’t white, upper-middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical Christians in a Western cultural hegemony.

    I don’t want to repeat the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. I did them already, the first time around. I don’t need a thirty-year refresher course. But it appears I’m going to have to sit through one, as we explain all of this at 101-level once again so the white, upper-middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, Christian-identified twenty-something feminists who are so busy trying to re-invent the (seven-sided, chartreuse) wheel can get an idea of what’s gone before them. Because apparently History is Hard, and Listening is Hard, and Learning is Really Hard.

    (And people wonder why activist burnout happens?)

    But fuck it all, Intersectionality is NOT HARD. Intersectionality is about recognising oppression doesn’t bother with exclusive OR. Oppression is AND, all the way. It doesn’t let you pick and choose between the various types. It gives them to you all at once. Kyriarchal oppression gets you because you’re a woman AND you’re a person of colour AND you’re working-class AND you’re mentally ill AND you’re not heterosexual AND you’re disabled AND you’re not Christian AND you’re not Anglo-Celtic Western AND….

    The more ANDS on your list, the more hurdles you have to jump, and the further back you start. Then the kyriarchy announces that the race is a 50m sprint (even though your personal track looks more like the 1500m hurdles) and how dare you not complete it in under 10 seconds?

    Well, fuck that. My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit. And if that means a newcomer to feminism has to sit down and actually read something and learn something and listen to the folks who have gone before them before they get up there with signs and placards, well, all the fucking better.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 2:39 am | Permalink
  13. blessedjessed wrote:

    I’ve never commented on this blog, although I do happen along here quite often. I read this (and the details on Racialicious) and as a white cis feminist woman I now feel ashamed, sullied and very very angry. I’ll be standing next to you with Molotov cocktails – let’s burn it all and start anew.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  14. LBS wrote:

    Flavia, thank you for writing this post, and thank you, especially, for standing up and being divisive. A feminism that can’t take criticism is not my feminism either. We have to do this right, and do it together, or we’re no better than the kyriarchy.

    Thank you for reminding me what I can do better.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink
  15. anarres wrote:

    Thanks for writing this. What some people have called “divisive” I would call “constructive criticism, given by smart, thoughtful and generous people giving their time and energy to make feminism better”.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink
  16. DiSnazzio wrote:

    It makes me so angry that it’s women like you and Latoya who are accused of divisiveness and harming the movement. It wasn’t harmful and divisive when that sign was hoisted and caused pain and harm to women of color? The people who took to the internet to defend that bullshit and silence the expressed pain and hurt of women of color, they weren’t being divisive? Why is it only divisive when you’re pointing out divisiveness? This is the same “logic” that brings us the asinine idea that reverse racism exists. It’s not the pointing out of divisiveness that divides, damn it! Anyway. I am angry right along with you. Fuck any feminism that doesn’t joyfully embrace that anger and openly welcome intersectional critique.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  17. Hillary wrote:

    I can never remember the proper meaning of “ironic” (and whether it applies to some of the comments in this post) but the derailing, awful responses to this piece seem to prove its points. “Anger is not constructive”??? Talking about racism infiltrating feminism is “derailing”??? What the actual fuck.

    Thank you, Flavia, for writing about your anger instead of, I don’t know, working on your sampler? Doing yoga? Fuck that shit.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  18. tenthmoon wrote:

    My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

    Wondering how the defenders of The Sign would react to its hypothetical counterpart held aloft by a man in an anti-racist protest rally, if it read something like: “Blacks are the bitches of the world”. I bet that would go over great.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink
  19. Carol wrote:

    Flavia, thank you for writing this piece.
    And please get that pain in your side checked out. Could be bad.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  20. Evan wrote:

    Thank you, Tiger Beatdown. I have loved you for a long time but never so much as recently. You were the first blog on my path to informed feminism and your evolution into an incredibly thorough, inclusive, intersectional blog has taught me along the way. Now my cis, het, white, upper middle class lady self has my eyes opened to my privilege and I am SO ANGRY with you and my feminism will be intersectional or it will be BULLSHIT. These recent pieces, especially the last two by Flavia, have been fantastic and heartbreaking and inspiring, and though I didn’t comment on the last one it made me cry and think and I’ve been carrying it around with me. What I’m trying to say is, I’d be honored to throw flames with you at any movement that calls itself feminist and silences people because they don’t share my privilege.

    Just as long as we don’t literally throw any actual flames–I have to get accepted to the bar in 2.5 years so I can go out and use my JD to fight for change, and to make money to donate to Tiger Beatdown, and I probably can’t do that if I get arrested for arson.

    Also, t-shirts. We need them.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  21. Liisu wrote:

    It bothers me when it’s suggested that we shouldn’t be angry about things like this. If nobody was angry about wrongdoing and failures, would there be ‘a feminism’ now for us to be pissed off with for its failures? Anger can be healthy and women sure as hell don’t need to be told to calm down any more. If feminism isn’t intersectional, what’s the fucking point?

    Someone else may have made this point already, I have not read the entire comment section, it is 1AMish here.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  22. Leia wrote:

    I’m shouting and angry right along with you, Flavia.


    Thank you for your anger and your eloquence. Anger is powerful and if you aren’t angry about the racist bull shit that went down, I have to inform you that you are part of the problem. See also Melissa McEwan’s post On Anger.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  23. Leia wrote:

    Also, I want to make it clear that I completely agree with Kiri and SamanthaB.

    Snowflake, as a fellow sufferer I offer you all my empathy and hopes that things get better for you. My thoughts go out to you!

    There’s a HUGE difference between “I’m having mental health problems of whatever kind which makes emotions, including anger, problematic in some way” and “Meh, whatevs.”.

    What I’ve seen falls almost exclusively under “meh, I don’t care about your issues”, and it was that strain that I referred to in my comment as being part of the problem.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  24. nktw wrote:

    Thank you.

    These are the reasons I am sometimes reluctant to call myself a feminist. I’ve been called one in a derogatory way, for reasons like this, and I cannot defend them. As Flavia says: it’s bullshit.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  25. renniejoy wrote:

    Fuck Yeah, Intersectionality!!!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  26. Jess Banks wrote:

    Perfectly brilliant, Flavia. I’d even go one step further and say, “My ACTIVISM will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” I guess I’m an idiot for thinking that that was a pretty obvious point that didn’t really need to be made, right along with the “don’t shoot yourself in the foot” rule, but apparently no. I’ve got to give the current college-age generation props for being genuinely engaged in social issues, but there’s a level of tone deafness I don’t recall seeing before. It might be a product of the Special Snowflake upbringing Americans lavish on their kids, I don’t know. But just like nobody seems to actually proofread their own writing anymore, nobody seems to check for tone either.

    As for not getting angry, fuck that. People have been telling women that getting angry is a sign of weakness and instability (or demonic possession) for MILLENIA (historian here–not exaggerating). It’s not. Sometimes, it’s the only reasonable reaction to events around you.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  27. MK wrote:

    Thank you.
    I was talking with an acquaintance recently, a self-identified feminist, and she said that I should join her for the local Slut Walk. I expressed hesitation, said that I had mixed feelings about the Slut Walks. She said that she understood, but it was still good to show solidarity.
    No. She did not understand. And I did not clarify because the words were not in the right order in my mind, because I felt no pressing urge, but I thought, no. No, you do not understand because no, solidarity is not the most important thing.

    @Snowflake Empathy from a fellow sufferer. Sometimes, we have to protect our own selves by creating some distance. There is a point I teeter on, the point of productivity, wherein I am angry enough to stay motivated but not so angry as to be paralyzed by it. When I can scream about it, then I can be productive. This past week, it has been paralysis, and all I can do is cry. And I cry so much.

    @Hillary I would like to make a sampler that says “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  28. Eva wrote:

    All I’ve gotta say is, hell yeah, pass me a flamethrower, too. MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!

    (I can’t believe how hard it was to caps lock that. I need to practice more screaming when it’s called for! Thank you for your beautiful, articulate, and powerful example, Flavia.)

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink
  29. Stella wrote:

    I read your article on the immigration industry last week and I’ve been thinking about it since, without commenting. I’m not doing enough, I’m not fighting those fights, and from now on, I fucking will, because I’m sick of congratulating myself for my privilege. I live in Australia, and I’m sick of the shit that gets done in my name. I’m sick of my part in the pastry, and I’m sorry.
    My feminism, my activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  30. Joy wrote:

    I don’t wear t-shirts that say things, but for that one…well, I just have to make an exception.

    And I have had that anger becomes pain. The pain of knowing, of actually actively paying attention, the exhaustion of being angry physically manifest. And it does not help to be in chronic pain.

    @Snowflake and others who talked about the anger and the feeling lost in it. Yes. That too. I am endlessly disappointed in myself that I cannot ACTIVELY be a part of the solution at this time because (insert the reasons, but hey, that’s just excuses, whatever, but VICIOUS CYCLE) and it hurts me, then the anger is self-directed, then the big bad THEY win. Again. Because the anger, directed at ourselves, offers exactly the same effect as the shame, as the terrorism from threats to violence of all sorts: it is silencing, hiding, fear. When we turn that anger in, those that are not in OUR FEMINISM WHICH IS NOT BULLSHIT don’t have to deal with us because we’re too busy holding our own selves back in the guilts and the shames and the fears.

    I read most post, though some I skim because I know it’s going to hurt my ability to do the things I must do in my day. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It means it hurts. There are triggers we don’t even know we have, am sometimes mine cause skimming as self-protection. Some posts I can only take in to a point so that I can try to align my headspace to correct at least the language, at least my own thinking.

    I welcome your anger. I feel it too, when I can allow myself to. I can’t always. I’m working on that not spiraling me into deeper inability to act.

    But I will stand at your side as you scream MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT! even when I cannot scream it with you outside of my own head.

    You are teaching me and I thank you.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  31. Ursula wrote:

    Amazing. Thank you for your articulate and spot on article. MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT! rings loudly in my heart.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  32. naomi wrote:

    Thank you for the fine article…but there is one group, invisible, smashed between the layers you missed – old women. we are so unrapable that in the UK the National Health Service is mandated NOT to keep any kind of statistics on rape if the woman is 60 or over. the reason? we are so addled that we may have got it wrong that we weren’t really raped we just thought we were or we were confused about what actually happened.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  33. oh @naomi, I KNOW! There is so much more to intersectional analysis than what I covered. So.much.more. I just picked this past week’s events as a starting point to get through how intersectionality looks like. However, as you rightly point out, there are so many painful and terrible issues that we must not overlook or forget. This piece was meant as a starting point, certainly not as a pointer of which issues matter in detriment of others.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  34. Perla Buttons wrote:


    Thanks for the reminder. I’m young and brown. I don’t excuse others’ hurtful, privilege-blind foolery on the grounds of age or “Mean WOC (and non-fool non-WOC) aren’t coddling me enough when they talk!”

    Also, thank you to whoever recommended that fly trap recipe earlier – it’s getting bloody hot here in Oz and the flies are starting to buzz in. Will try it tomorrow!

    Friday, October 14, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink
  35. strato wrote:

    I see. I understand. I agree.

    I believe there is a second problem, which is difficult for me to phrase… I could describe it as this unconscious tendency to think that things would be better for us, as women, as a feminists, if people around us were more “european”, more “swedish-like”. As if the way to feminism had to be travelled by ignoring words like “puta” (which has a powerful resonance for me personally, of course). As if the end of patriarchy had to be a gift from up north.

    Does it make sense? Is it relevant to this discussion?

    Anyway, this thing does blur things out -deceive, inveigle, obfuscate, whatever.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  36. Danielle wrote:

    I’ve read all of this as well as your post about immigrants. I’m from the Netherlands, so the latter article left a very uncomfortable, complicated impression on me – that is, being all white middle-class and feminist and living in a country that handles immigration in a terrible way, it is a lot to take in and think about. And I will think about it, and re-read what you wrote, and think about it again. I don’t have an opinion. This is all stuff I have to sit down for, listen, read and learn. So thank you for writing down all of it. It is difficult for me to take it all in at once, but I will try. I don’t want to be a part of making feminism bullshit.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  37. Chloe wrote:

    “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit” I need this on a t shirt now.

    and @Snowlfake as a fellow depression sufferer you have my empathy and I completely understand where you are coming from. I am fucking sick of it being implied I am ‘less’ of a feminist for not having the health to go to as many meetings/demos/general activist things; sometimes it’s so hard just to exist. The onus is not on you to prove anything or to live up to a neurotypical/able bodied idea of what you ‘should’ be; espcially as that ‘should be’ is often something you genuinely CAN’T be for a whole host of reasons.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  38. Jackie wrote:

    Hi, as a brown, mixed woman in the UK who has to deal with a *LOT* of asshattery by self-proclaimed “non-racists” and men who are “all for equality” but still treat women like crap – this speaks so much to me! I don’t know a lot about intersectionality or feminism but I know what I am angry about! And that is when women and/or race issues get swept under the carpet or laughed at and trivialised. Thank you for this!

    Monday, October 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  39. My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit.

    When people ask me why I get so angry about issues that “don’t apply” to my TAB white self, I always struggle for words. Now I will tell them: my feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit. Otherwise, what use is it? What are we trying to achieve, if not total equality? This post should be required reading.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink
  40. ontological wrote:

    Flavia. You rule. This is the first post I have read here, and I’ll be coming back. I appreciate your anger, and the fact that you used the word asshattery in a comment, and that you can write about this in a way that made me smile AND get angry at the same time.

    Can I just snag your line for all the activism I’m involved in? As in, “My advocacy as a privileged attorney will acknowledge privilege or it will be bullshit!” or “My social justice organization will be anti-racist or it will be bullshit!” or……yeah. Mine aren’t as catchy as yours, but you get the idea.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  41. @ontological, snag away, my friend! Snag away! 🙂

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  42. FEMINEOPHYTE wrote:

    my comment is that i too am angry!! and i am anxious. anxious because i will get an inch and then i question if i should keep on pushin or be happy with that inch, which deep down i know i am not! the butterflies start and i know i’ve got to say something, because assuming that all transgendered people identify as homosexual is not in fact OK, and not in fact true… here’s the story: i will be in a conversation with someone with privilege, someone who is not aware of their privilege (as i once was, and i’m sure i still am on some accounts), and someone who is my friend, who i want to keep as my friend because of all of their great qualities, but they also need to know and understand who i am- so here i am expressing my feminist self and just maybe i can get them to see my perspective (hooray! an inch!) that yes your greatgrandfather was an immigrant, but was he a slave?? no, he wasn’t, so the oppression he faced when coming to North America is NOT the same experience as it was for Africans! and the legacy of racism no longer affects your family because you are now “white,” not Irish American! so yes, i get some distance, a modicum, but let’s say i try to put in any intersectionality- OVERLOAD! OVERLOAD! ALERT! ALL SYSTEMS SHUT DOWN! and now i get labeled as a bleeding liberal or over the top or emotional- and it makes me crazy!! i try to use my voice, but it is such an uphill battle and it is still not that strong- so i thank you for helping to make it louder and stronger and echo my everyday struggles within my own life, and allowing the use of your rhetoric: MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink
  43. SH wrote:

    Just to say–as a white woman, for whatever that might mean, but I stand with you–MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 3:20 am | Permalink
  44. So – I am totally down with the message of intersectional feminism. But I just have to say that I had the best laugh of the last few days reading Hektor’s responses to your trolls. I had tears in my eyes, and gave my abs a workout. So thank you.

    PS – My feminism will be intersectional or it will be BS!

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  45. Free wrote:

    Flavia, Don’t you know that WoC are not allowed to get angry ’cause when we do, white folks can’t hear us. But we must hear their anger, loud and clear because their anger is much more righteous and truthy than ours.

    Seriously, I am with you Flavia – flametrhrower at the ready and kitty too.

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  46. Sarah wrote:

    Imagine me, fists in the air tears streaming down my cheeks screaming yes. That is how much I agree with and feel what you’re saying. Feminism was and is important to me as a white woman because it made me see that it wasn’t just me who was getting the shit end of the stick, but all of us. How can I possibly stand here and advocate that only SOME of us become free? Until we’re all free NONE are free. And if feminism can’t do that, then as much as it breaks my heart I have to load the flamethrower and find a new sisterhood. I really hope I don’t have to do that, so I’m going to work my ass off to educate myself and listen to WoC and call out bullshit that is perpetrated in the name of feminism. I’ll scream with you at the top of my lungs, YOUR FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  47. Dominique wrote:

    My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

    Thank you for sharing your anger.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink
  48. Newonetotheclass wrote:

    Reading those comments (and some of the ones here! Whoo boy!)…I mean, I am feminist, and a white lady one with a middle-class privilege as well as an able-bodied (for having a disability that isn’t immediately “visible”) privilege and I can’t with these people. How folks responded so damn ON POINT with these guys is beyond me, and I aspire to be as angry!articulate as yourself and all of Tiger Beatdown are. I lose my point with my cool, which invites the tone derailing argument pretty quickly. ONE DAY THOUGH, ONE DAY.

    The sign was unbelievable. It really…it’s not rocket science, other white ladies, seriously. My first reaction upon seeing it was “Uh…and Black womennn?” with a serious side order of side-eye and confusion. What has really got me raging (and confusing my family – bless, they think I have had too much coffee! Nope. Just too much wilful ignorance), are the RESPONSES of these people! The goddamn GALL of people supposedly walking for something feminist, whilst using the SAME TYPES of argument used against us in gender-based debate – against WOC? WHAT THE FRESH HELL IS THIS. It doesn’t even make any sense, the level of hypocrisy is just…how can they not notice?! How can they just turn around and silence WOC, when we are supposed to KNOW about privileges, and when we have spent a great deal of time being very gentle – and blunt – with men about how *their* privilege shows, when we white feminists are telling WOC we’re sorry that “they got offended”?! Fauxpologies? THE TONE ARGUMENT? REAAAALLLYYYY.

    As much as I hate this, I also will admit to loving your rage. Loving your rage, because it IS rage inducing, and because the gently-softly approach can be so tiring. This article is getting posted on my own facebook, and I don’t give a flying crap who this makes uncomfortable or what apologist/wilfully ignorant privileged person decides to ~defriend me, because I have people who are singing the praises of SlutWalk, and this goddamn well needs to be heard.

    Can I also steal MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT for a sign? If I ever go to some activist protest (as with SlutWalk, they always seem to be very…non-intersectional)? THIS is a sign I could get behind. THIS is a sign I would love to see plastered all over the internets. You are no feminist to me if you don’t grasp intersectionality.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink